Turkey's Erdogan Told Trump US Should Withdraw From Syria's Manbij

Turkey's Erdogan Told Trump US Should Withdraw From Syria's Manbij

He said weapons exports would be discussed in coming weeks in talks between his Social Democrats and Merkel's conservatives on whether to renew their current right-left "grand coalition".

Washington is focused on defeating the so-called Islamic State, while Ankara is anxious to prevent Syria's Kurds from gaining autonomy and fuelling Kurdish insurgents at home in Turkey.

Turkey's air and ground operation in Syria's Afrin region, now in its fifth day, targets USA -backed Kurdish YPG fighters, which Ankara sees as allies of Kurdish insurgents who have fought in southeastern Turkey for decades. "This is a national fight, and whoever opposes us will be crushed".

Turkey regards Kurdish separatists as terrorists.

There was no immediate response from the U.S. to Bozdag's comments on Thursday. Ankara has said the operation will be swift, but Mr Erdogan's spokesman signalled an open-ended cross-border campaign, saying it would end only when some 3.5 million Syrian refugees now living in Turkey could safely return home.

The release, signed by the Democratic Self-Administration of the Afrin province, reaffirms Afrin is an integral part of Syria and calls for the official Syrian state government to carry out its sovereign duties, protect its borders from attacks by the "Turkish occupier" and deploy the Syrian armed forces to secure the borders of the Afrin region with Turkey.

A Turkish military vehicle heads towards Syria's Afrin region.

This reaction of the Defense Ministry came after earlier reports that the U.S. intends to create a 30,000-strong Kurdish-led force in northeast Syria.

However Turkey has disputed that characterization of the conversation.

Turkey has said the operation will be brief but so far the YPG has said that Turkish backed forces have not succeeded in taking any territory in Afrin.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which a British war monitor, has reported that 23 civilians have been killed in the Turkish air strikes, and thousands have fled the fighting.

The Turkish military said in a statement it had killed 303 militants in northern Syria since the operation started.

But with Turkey attacking the YPG for a sixth day, a Syrian Kurdish militia allied with the U.S. against ISIL, other American security officials were more explicit. The White House statement suggests that US soldiers may not do the same - raising the prospect of a direct clash between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation armies, unless Erdogan backs down.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish group it has designated as an extremist organization.

The United States relies on the YPG - which forms the backbone of a force that drove Islamic State fighters from much of northeast Syria - to patrol areas taken from the extremist group.

Turkey said the United States had proposed a 30 km (19 mile) "safe zone" along the border with Syria.

In the short-term, analysts say, the United States has little pressure it can apply on Turkey given the US military's heavy dependence on a Turkish base to carry out airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State militant group.

"What we want to hear from our allies and friends is that they should say we are next to Turkey, we are sided with Turkey when it comes to fighting against terrorism and when it comes to (what is) actually happening in Afrin", Celik said.

"The operation is aimed at ensuring border security against the infiltration of Daesh and PKK/PYD/YPG attacks, neutralizing the terrorists in Afrin and rescuing civilians from terror", Sinirlioglu said.